Monday, September 20, 2010

The Small Blog Blues

I'm the epitome of the "small blog." After a year, I admit I expected to see some growth in my visitor rates. I mean, I didn't figure to be pulling down CNN numbers or anything, but I thought I might consistently get a few dozen hits a day. Typically, though, it's more like 15-20. July, 2010, for example, was an especially good month. Looking at my Google Analytics line chart, I can see that it has a generally thicker profile than previous months - I consistently had more visitors, with few if any days when almost nobody stopped by. Yet for one of my best months, the numbers aren't too impressive. Breaking it down to the best two weeks of the month, from the 19th through the 31st (in order to give the "best case" picture for this "best" month), I averaged 24 visitors per day. During that time, I never dropped below 18 visitors per day, and on one day I hit a high of 35. For a "typical" day, that's pretty darn good for me.

Sure, I can pad my numbers if I put some effort into it. I've been a member of a particular message board/forum for ten years or so, and if I post something there that interests them and direct them back to my blog, it'll bump my numbers up significantly. Note that I never do that just to get more hits (I don't actually derive any tangible benefit from getting more hits, so there's not much point), but it can be done. Likewise, I can plug a blog article on Facebook and that will often generate more traffic. But if I had any illusions that my blog would "go viral," they'd have long since been shattered. I have a handful of family and friends who read my blog, which is cool - that's mostly who it's aimed toward. I do get some drive-by traffic, however.

For instance, my review of Nerf's N-Force swords, continues to be popular - I've had some 50+ visitors find my site by searching on terms related to that product. I think those swords are awesome, so hopefully my review was helpful (note to Nerf - you're welcome. Please send free stuff for my boys.).

Apparently lots of guitar players have fat fingers, as I seem to have gotten a couple of dozen searches on that, also. I feel your pain, my fat-fingered brothers and sisters of the axe. And I have no answers for you. I've considered gluing pencil erasers to my fingertips, but have yet to actually try it.

Another very popular search is on the term "My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance," which is a paraphrase of a line written for Babylon 5 by J. Michael Straczynski and delivered by Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari (played by Peter Jurasik). If I add up all of those searches, it's another couple dozen.

I've gotten twenty or so hits on stuff related to the Sterling Renaissance Festival, Renn-faire music, actors, actresses and performers. Yay for the rennies and their fans!

I've gotten a handful of hits on Stephen King's "Dark Tower" graphic novels. That's cool - I loved them.

Considering how much I've written about karate and the martial arts, I've gotten surprisingly few hits on related searches. Just goes to show how little attention they get in the U.S., I suppose. I knew that already.

Surprisingly, a few people search for vellum-related stuff. I thought vellum had pretty much fallen out of use with the invention of paper, but evidently people still have an interest in it. Sorry, folks, my blog's got nothing related to actual vellum. Just virtual vellum, and really not too much of that, either.

A few folks found my blog while searching for "Dropbox," but so far only my dad has actually gone ahead and clicked my Dropbox link to sign up for the service and give both of us some extra free space. That's disappointing, actually. I'm tempted to plug that one a little more aggressively. It's free storage, space, people! For both of us! Click the link! (oh, and thanks, Dad!)

And that's about it for searches. Everybody else has found the site because they know me and find my writing erudite and compelling (or they just know me and feel obligated to read it), or because they followed a link I posted somewhere. So look around - those are your fellow readers. Chances are good you know each other already.

Not that I'm complaining. I write this because I want to write it, because I hope my kids get a kick out of it when they're older, and because it gives me a place to explore various topics of interest and occasionally get some interactive response from people (some of whom have been from as far away as Ireland and Hong Kong, which is extremely cool). Sure, I'd like more of that, which would likely occur if I were to find a larger following, but it's not a very high priority for me. Certainly, I have some data that I could use to modify my blog if that's what I was all about. A Rennfaire-themed blog would get a fair number of hits, it would seem. Or I could probably write about sci-fi themed TV shows or King's "Dark Tower" or whatever and potentially see a boost in traffic.In fact, just sticking to one subject would probably help in that regard - as it stands, my eclectic selection of topics surely makes it hard to attract regular followers who don't know me and are purely interested in my blog's content.

The thing is, I don't think I'm passionate enough about any single subject to be able to write about it five days a week for months on end. So it's not likely that much will change here - I'll continue to write about whatever pops into my head and my readership will continue to consist primarily of friends and loved-ones. I probably should buy the boys some more Nerf swords, though. They'd enjoy beating each other with them and apparently the internet community would like to read more reviews.

So to my few dozen regular readers, thank you! I'm glad you stop by and I hope I can continue to write stuff you find interesting.


  1. Hi Mike.

    I have been pretty much off the intertubes for the past month dealing with my own issues. I'm glad that you're still here posting away. Your interests are on a track that is rather different from my own, but at the same time kind of parallel. If that makes any sense. If it does, explain it to me!

    I just read "The Girl Who Played With Fire" -- which was a fun read indeed. Probably something you would like if you have not come across it already.

    You coined a great line there with {`Intermediate' Means to Suck at a Whole New Level}. Love it! I wonder if you and yours have any interest in classical guitar, even as a complimentary sideline to what you are doing now. My son and I are doing it. I tried learning chords in my teens -- with emphasis on _tried_. The few I memorized were memorized in isolation from one another. No connection. After some time with simple classical melodic pieces (no chords), I found my fingers starting to find the chords on their own, like the guitar itself was teaching me. It was cool.

    Of course life is short, and it means purchase of a classical guitar (at the time I thought a guitar was a guitar.)

  2. Oh - speaking of fat fingers. I am trying to do something with faster fingering now, and I am trying to do it on my son's 3/4 size guitar. It sucks. I am trying to cajole the mrs into our getting a full size one (which my son will need in a few years anyway). Problem is, I would like to get a nice one! ;-)

  3. Hi Largo - welcome back! Glad you're still reading when you're able.

    Regarding classical guitar, I don't know if it would be appropriate to say that my son and I have no interest in it. Our guitar teacher started as a classical guitarist and could teach us to play that way. We haven't really been driving our learning, though. I'm so clueless that I'm happy to just tell him "teach us to play the guitar" and let him decide what to teach us. For myself, my primary goal is just to be able to sit down and play a moderately-complex song if I'm so-inclined, and have it sound more-or-less like it's supposed to. For my son, my goal is for him to have a broad enough understanding of both the instrument and music in general to be able to a) play what he wants, b) understand the theory behind it enough to compose new stuff if he wants to and c) know the instrument well enough to someday make his own choices about styles to play and what he'd like to learn.

    My teacher has indicated that I'd be ready (from an instructional standpoint) to move to an electric guitar, if I wanted to, by around New Year's. I'm strongly considering going in that direction eventually, since most of the music I want to play is rock and metal, and they're meant to be played on an electric.

    There are various factors to consider, including that I can't afford an electric guitar anytime soon (so I feel your pain in that area), plus we'd need to figure out whether my son and I would still be learning the same stuff or whether our lessons would diverge somehow. If I have to make a choice, I'll just stick with acoustic if it's going to mean that his music education progresses more smoothly.

    Anyway, good luck with your own musical journey. Nice acoustic guitars get pricey pretty quickly.